When Johnson Brothers was founded in 1883 by Frederick and Alfred Johnson, their goal for their Staffordshire pottery was to produce an earthenware called “White Granite,” which is marked on many early pieces as “SEMI PORCELAIN.” It was a great material for dinnerware because it looked like china but was as tough as ironstone. As it turned out, though, White Granite would not be the product for which Johnson Brothers would become best known.

By 1888, Frederick and Alfred’s elder brother, Henry, had joined the company, which produced its wares in a factory called the Charles Street Works in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at two other facilities nearby. By the end of the century, the family’s fourth brother, Robert, joined his siblings from a satellite office in New York, the number of Johnson Brothers potteries would climb to five, and the ware for which the firm would become most famous, transferware, would be added to the line.

With Robert drumming up sales in America, Johnson Brothers products were soon selling well in the United States, where transferware and flow blue porcelain were very popular. The quality of the ware was unquestioned, but the company’s mid-range pricing made it easy for people to fill their cupboards with Johnson Brothers products.

In the early part of the century, the sons of the brothers joined the firm to lead sales efforts across Europe. After World War I, during the 1920s, a new colored clay called “Dawn” was introduced—it came in gray, rose, green, and gold. By the end of the decade, several Johnson grandsons had also joined the firm.

Flow blue patterns produced by Johnson Brothers in the early years of the 20th century included Albany, Astoria, Brooklyn, Claremont, Clarence, Clayton, Del Monte, Dresden, Eclipse, Florida, Fulton, Jewel, Montana, Neopolitan, Normandy, Oregon, Oxford, Pansey, Peach, Pekin, Persian, Princeton, Richmond, Royston, Stanley, St. Louis, Tokio, Tulip, Venice, and Vienna. Later, in the teens and early 1920s, Andora, Argyle, Coral, Georgia, Holland, Kenworth, Mongolia, Savoy, Sterling, and Turin were introduced.

Most Johnson Brothers marks from those years had a crown on them, some with squared-off corners. The pattern name was sometimes printed with quotes around it, but more often it went without.

Beyond flow blue, Johnson Brothers produced numerous transferware patterns for its plates, platters, and pitchers. The firm is most often associated with patterns featuring wild ...

The 1930s saw the shuttering of the company’s original Charles Street Works and the replacement of its traditional coal-fired “bottle” kilns for all-electric tunnel versions. With a Depression on, it was a good time to modernize in the hopes of better days ahead.

After World War II, pieces in the Friendly Village pattern were widely sought, as were the company’s Christmas plates. By the 1950s, cups and saucers in the Carnival line featured bold solid colors and cups with tapering bases. The look was very Mid-century Modern, which was a long way from the company’s aesthetic roots. Finally, in 1968, unable to remain independent any longer, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Thepotteries.org

Thepotteries.org

Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Johnson Brothers Flow Blue - Normandy Pattern - 2 Bone Dishes, Butter Pat, GravyJohnson Brothers Flow Blue - Normandy Pattern - 2 Oval Serving PlattersJohnson Brothers The Friendly Village Butter Dish The Covered Bridge2 Vintage Paragon Signed R Johnson Dessert Plates Blue W/big Red Roses Gold Trim2 Vintage Paragon Signed R Johnson Dessert Plates Pink W/big Red Roses Gold TrimEight Strawberry Fair Vintage Red White Dinner Plates By Johnson BrosJohnson Brothers Historic America Massachusetts Brown Dinner Plates 10" Lot Of 628 Pieces Johnson Bros. Windsor Ware, Dover BlueSet Lot Six 6 Johnson Bros Blue Coaching Scenes Coach Office 7 7/8" Salad PlatesJohnson Bros Friendly Village 9 3/4" Dinner Plates - 6 - The School HouseJohnson Brothers “old Britain Castles” Vintage Green SaucerJohnson Brothers Windsorware Garden Bouquet Teapot 9" Wide X 6" High Great ShapeRed Wing Spongeware Advertising Bowl Johnson & Tjarks Groceries Iowa Falls, IowaThe Friendly Village Rimmed Soup Bowls - 4 -johnson Bros. - Made In EnglandJohnson Brothers The Friendly Village - England - Covered Sugar And CreamerJohnson Brothers Winchester 3 Dinner PlatesHoward Johnson's Restaurant Creamer, Simon Pieman Pattern, Shenango China, 3"hJohnson Bros Warwick England Flow Blue Dinner Plate Antique QualityVintage Johnson Brothers Eastbourne Pareek 13 5/8" Serving Platter 1913 - 1931Lot Set Of 2 Bowls St Louis Missouri Historic America Johnson Bros Blue England Howard Johnson's Restaurant Heavy Cup, Mug, Caribe China, C: 1960Vintage Johnson Bros Regency Oblong Covered Butter Dish W BoxJohnson Bros. Blue Willow Set Of 5 Cereal BowlsJohnson Bros Coaching Scenes Creamer & Sugar Hunting Country EnglandHoward Johnson's Restaurant Heavy Pieman Sugar Minus Lid Walker China, Jan 1940Vtg Semi-porcelain Soup Tureen/ L Serving Bowl Pink&blue Flowers Johnson Bros-gbRoyal Ironstone China - Johnson Bros - Late Pankhurst & Co. England - Sugar BowlRare Howard Johnson Restaurant Ware ~ Small Oval Plate 9 1/4" X 6 1/4" ( Nice )Lot Of Johnson Brothers Friendly Village 8-1/2" Flat Bowels, Tea Cups & Saucers Johnson Brothers The Friendly Village - Stone Wall - 5" Berry Bowls -set Of 4Johnson Brothers Coaching Scenes 14" Serving PlatterJohnson Bros - England - Castle On The Lake 16 Inch Serving PlatterJohnson Bros. Rose Chintz Coffee Pot / Server (for Display Purposes Only?)10 Vintage Vitrified Jac-tan Johnson China Tan Small Berry Bowls Usa Jac TanIndies Blue Johnson Bros Demitasse Cup & Saucers Set Of 6 Blue & White EnglandJohnson Bros The Friendly Village Covered Bridge 10" Handled Dinner Plate Johnson Brothers The Friendly Village Large Pitcher Mint! Johnson Bros. Old Britain Castles Brown 7 ½ Inch Salad PlateVtg Johnson Brothers Game Birds Plate Wild Turkey 8 1/4Johnson Bros Brothers Old Britain Castles Red Pink Set Of Salt & Pepper ShakersCaribe China Howard Johnson's Restaurants???? Gravy BoatJohnson Brothers Pareek China Enfield Pattern Footed Gravy Boat England27 Pc. Johnson Bros. Historic America Blue & White China Lot Plates Cups PlatterJohnson Brothers Indian Tree 8 Bread / Desert Plates 6" IronstoneJohnson Brothers (hanley) Stoke-on-trent Coaching Scenes Dinner Plate9" Luncheon Plate, 1890's Johnson Brothers "sylvan" English Transferware Dw-126Vintage Johnson Bros England Demitasse Persian Tulip Transferware Teacup & SauceVintage Johnson Bros. Old English "belford" Pattern 10 3/4" Porcelain PlateJohnson Bros Tower Bridge Commemorative Dinner Plate 9 7/8"View Of Boston Massachusetts Plate Johnson Brothers Red Transferware Ironstone Johnson Brothers English Set Of 6pc Lynton Pattern Dinner Plate Made In England